German travel phrases are useful for tourists and can help you show a little respect for local German culture. In this post, we're going to look at useful German words & expressions you can use on your holiday here.
Basic German Travel Phrases
We're going to start out with very common German travel phrases and later in the post look at some more advanced expressions you might want to use on your trip. All travel phrases come with audio recordings, so just click on the play button to listen to the pronunciation. 😊
Common German Travel Phrases
Let's start with the absolute basics of German. If you don't have much time left and want to make sure you can at least say Hello, Goodbye and yes in German, have an intense stare at this list:
If you want to introduce yourself in German or have a little bit of small talk, whether it be at a café or at the airport, you might like the following phrases. When using these phrases, make sure that your name is Tom.
If you would like to learn how to talk about yourself more, the first lesson of our free online German lessons is about how to introduce yourself in German.
Locations in German
Phrases for the Airport
Ordering at Restaurants & Cafés
Travel Phrases for the Hotel
Getting Around in German
Advanced German Travel Phrases & Idioms
Now, if you are an intermediate learner, you might not have to learn simple phrases like “Ein Bier bitte” and “Guten Tag” anymore. The phrases in the following list will provide you with helpful building blocks you may use to form more advanced, eloquent sentences about your trip, in German, whilst you tuck into your Spaghettieis.
1. Der Geheimtipp
Have you ever been on holiday and found a restaurant or a sight that is little known, but absolutely amazing? If so, you found a Geheimtipp.
A Geheimtipp is a quality place that has a certain charm in part because it isn’t filled with tourists. The reason for this is because it isn’t so well known; as if the locals have been keeping it a secret from the crowds of tourists.
2. Die Touristenfalle
When on holiday, you may come across certain low-quality tourist attractions and services that are meant to entice those looking for a quick and easy-to-find place to go, in order to pass the time. They may be mediocre and tacky, and are often overpriced.
When you go to such a place, you may even leave feeling like you were given a superficial impression of the culture, and may have noticed that the place was full of tourists, with no locals in sight. Some people enjoy the convenience of such places, but for those who don’t, they can be referred to as: tourist traps.
So, next time you’re on holiday, you might find it useful to remember this term.
PS: Das Beispiel ist ein echter Tipp. Die haben sehr leckere Baumstriezel.
3. In der Umgebung
Sometimes it can be useful to ask around for Geheimtipps in the area you are staying. Die Umgebung is the Kreis or Bereich in which one is staying. If you know the whereabouts of some hidden gems in the area, you can kill two birds with one stone by visiting interesting, quality places, without having to travel around the city all day. Or, perhaps for those who do love to explore all the far corners of a given travel destination, it may be enough to just know which little cafe in the area one may visit every morning, for a reliable cup of coffee.
Either way, it may come in handy to remember the phrase: In der Umgebung.
4. sich nach etw. erkundigen
It’s always a good idea to plan ahead of your holiday ☝️; to seek any information that may be useful to you on your trip. Sich nach etw. erkundigen means just this - to seek information / to ask about something, looking for helpful information.
For example, you may have booked a dinner on the beach during your holiday, but would like to ask for more information regarding the exact location. Or, you may have booked your hotel but would like to ask if they offer specific food at the breakfast buffet. To ask for this information, you could say:
5. keine Sekunde vergeuden
Some people love to make the most out of the time they have on holiday. They wake up early, maybe as early as the sun rises, to double check their plan for the day, packed with a number of activities to do and sights to see.
First there’ll be a morning hike through the mountains, before a tour of the city, then a quick train ride to a cheese tasting in the countryside, then back to the city for a dinner that was booked weeks in advance, and a night of dancing at an edgy fetish party held in a medieval castle.
Do you know someone like this? In any case, not a minute should be wasted!
6. etw. durchplanen / etw. bis ins letzte Detail planen
For those who love to plan every detail of their holiday, the phrase “etw. bis ins letzte Detail planen” may come in handy.
There are some holiday destinations that are full of fascinating things to explore and experience. For example, Berlin has an abundance of quality clubs, spas and museums to offer. So, in order to fit in as much as you can in a short amount of time, one might like to plan ahead and get organized.
7. es sich gut gehen lassen
Whilst some people love to make the most out of their holiday by filling it with activities, others are perfectly content with lots of relaxation and restoration.
This may be done by booking a relaxing holiday by the sea, or retreating into nature by spending your trip in a cabin in the woods. What’s important here is the idea of just letting go, or to: sich gut gehen lassen.
8. auf gut Glück
Sometimes, some people enjoy keeping holiday planning to a bare minimum, as in not planning much at all and letting each day bring new, spontaneous adventures.
For example, you may book a flight to a remote destination you’ve never visited before, just like that. No plan. No wishlist. Just your passport and, hopefully, the eyes of god watching over you. Whether it’s a whole holiday left unplanned, or perhaps just a day to see where your mood takes you, a helpful expression to describe this intentional spontaneity is: auf gut Glück.
9. jdn. auf die Folter spannen
Have you ever booked a holiday for your partner or friend, but didn’t tell them the destination until the day you took your flight?
Or have you ever planned a special day, or activity during a trip abroad, that your partner or friend knew about except for some really important details, like where the event is being held, or what type of food to expect?
If you have, then you have kept someone waiting in suspense, or you intend to excite somebody by purposefully hiding details about your plan. There is a phrase in German that expresses this: jdn. auf die Folter spannen.
10. Urlaub auf Balkonien machen
This phrase is for those of us who, once in a while, enjoy a good holiday spent in the comfort of our own home… or, yes, balconies.
As this phrase quite literally suggests, “Urlaub auf Balkonien machen”, means to relax and enjoy what one has to offer at home already, rather than to travel somewhere else.
So, for example, many people, perhaps against their wishes, would have spent their recent holidays in "Balkonien", due to the Corona restrictions. Many people living in Berlin also enjoy their holidays in "Balkonien" over the summer, as the city is arguably most alive during this season.